Dáil Éireann - Volume 517 - 11 April, 2000

Written Answers. - Air and Sea Services.

155. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Defence the recommendations, if any, of the Price Waterhouse report on defence matters being implemented with reference to the Naval Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10619/00]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The report to the steering group on the review of the Naval Service and Air Corps was adopted by Government in July 1998. This report set out a range of recommendations for more effective and efficient air and sea services. It was recognised that some of these recommendations could be [1411] proceeded with fairly quickly while others would take longer to implement. It is important that the recommendations be implemented in a structured and coherent way that contributes to the overall development of the Defence Forces.

In October 1998, I directed the chief of staff to arrange for the flag officer commanding the Naval Service to submit an implementation plan that would give effect to the effectiveness and efficiency recommendations in the Price Waterhouse report. A draft implementation plan for the Naval Service was submitted to me towards the end of last year. After careful consideration, I decided that additional work needed to be done to augment this plan. I am looking forward to receiving a revised draft plan from the Chief of Staff so that I can advance the process. This plan should, among other things, develop new approaches to ensure that Naval Service vessels maximise the number of days on patrol.

As with the reorganisation of the Defence Forces, the changes in both the Air Corps and the Naval Service will be of a positive nature aimed at ensuring the ongoing development of these services consistent with the needs of the State and the taxpayer. The broader development of both services has been dealt with in the context of the White Paper on Defence which sets out the principal elements of a plan to implement the effectiveness and efficiency recommendations made by Price Waterhouse, as follows: a new organisational structure based on operations and support divisions with an overall manpower level of around 1,144; a planned approach to sea-shore rotation of personnel based on a two-year period of commitment to sea-going duties followed by a two-year period away from such duties; service level agreements with principal clients such as the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources; regular recruitment and other measures such as schemes for the commissioning of enlisted personnel to address personnel shortfalls; enhancement of the naval college and development of proposals for a joint initiative with Cork Institute of Technology, in order to meet changing needs and keep pace with the increased demand for maritime education and training responses; and continuation of a programme of investment at the naval base to improve the buildings and other infrastructure.

The recommendation for the relocation of Naval Service headquarters in Haulbowline was implemented in December 1999. Last week I signed an order for a new, state of the art vessel similar to the L.E. Róisín.